Exciting news! I am starting a new column on the blog, “An Inspiring Entrepreneur.” Every so often I will be featuring someone on here who has an enthusiastic drive, an inspiring story, and strives for success. May you admire, relate, and cheer these featured entrepreneurs on (let’s face it, no entrepreneur is going to turn down a round of applause)!
First up, Nicole from Uniquely Women. She is a full-time blogger working from the comfort of her home (or wherever has wi-fi!) every single day. I am so excited to have her be my very first feature! This girl has so much wisdom when it comes to blogging. Beyond her wisdom, she is gorgeous (in & out), the kindest in the biz, and always up for adventure which I LOVE!
I met Nicole (the lady behind Uniquely Women) in Cedar Falls, IA (where she resides) 4 years ago. I had a storefront (garage front to be specific) called Stew’s. It was full of flea market finds, hand painted furniture, and architectural/industrial wares. Nicole actually ended up filling in for me at the shop here and there and painting some furniture for me. Now, four years later and she is killing it in her own business. I am so thrilled our paths crossed and that I get to embark on this journey of life with her in it!
I have asked Nicole a few questions. Her responses are great! Read on:
- Why blogging? Is this your passion?
Blogging was definitely never on my radar until 2012. I started a blog to document the creative ideas I had bottling up inside me. I didn’t know the full extent of blogging and never knew I could create a profitable blog until years later. After being laid off I dug deep into blogging, with the encouragement from my husband. I haven’t turned back since. My passion turned from learning everything there was about blogging to now teaching others how to do the same as I have!
- Top 3 blogs you enjoy following?
Fashion, interiors, and lifestyle blogs I love to follow! Along with Main + Second (duh!).
- How many times have you wanted to give up?
Oh my goodness, so many times. You definitely have to be patient when blogging. It takes a lot of hard work and dedication to make things work.
- Who’s your biggest supporter?
Hands down my husband! He was the one that pushed me to start and keep at blogging (even during the tough times.) He’s now even helping me from time to time with new courses, maintaining my blog, and a lot of behind the scenes work.
I learned early on that Blogging can get lonely. Entrepreneurship wasn’t something many others were doing around me, so networking was important. I have created some amazing friendships with other bloggers! Granted, I haven’t met many of them – but it was great having that support and accountability partner to talk to on a consistent basis.
- Time management can be hard when you work for yourself. How do you manage your time?!
Time Management is one of the biggest hurdles I faced when working for myself. It’s so easy to get distracted, especially working from home. Over time I’ve created a schedule that now works for me and my business.
I set specific goals and tasks during the day that I want to accomplish. I then break those tasks into hour or so increments. I set alarms on my phone for 1-2 hours (based on that task.) Once the timer goes off, I go take a break for 5-10 minutes no matter if I’m done with that task or not. I’ve learned that it’s important to take a step away from the computer and go do something else for a couple minutes before jumping back into it.
I love batching tasks as well. I lump tasks that I would normally need to do on a daily basis to only doing them once a week. For instance – I take photos for social media once a week . I set up all props and backgrounds one time per week. This has definitely saved me time.
- Name 5 instagram friends you have met through your business that inspire you but have yet to meet face to face!
- Personal life… Fill us in on your home life!
I recently married the love of my life, JJ, last June in Mexico. We live in Cedar Falls, IA with our dachshund pups (Bogey & Maverick.) When I’m not blogging – we both enjoy traveling, hitting up local breweries, and enjoying live music concerts.
- How many hours a week do you blog?
- How many hours a week are spent on social media?
I spend about 5-10 hours a week actually on blogging. The rest of my week – I’m constantly working on growing my email list, creating opt-ins, courses, being active in the facebook group, etc.
I only post a blog once or twice a week and the rest of the time is working on growing my business.
- Where do you want to be in 5 years with your business?
My big passion is helping others discover blogging. I want to help others grow thriving blogs. I created the Blogging Facebook Group – Blogging 101 (www.facebook.com/groups/blog101group) for that sole purpose and have loved being inside the group sharing my experiences and expertise.
I have a traffic building bootcamp course launching here soon. I have other courses in the works as well. My goal is to continue creating digital resources for bloggers to gain value.
- Your turn… Ask me (Main + Second) ONE question! I have to answer so make it good 😉
Because I loved your question so much — Where do you want to be in 5 years from now with your blog?
My response: I would love to be successful enough to be able to hire another writer someday! I have this beautiful vision in my head (if you didn’t know already, I am a full time dreamer #addicted) of our prairie barn getting sealed up, adding windows, new doors, and turning it into a four-season workspace/studio/warehouse. To be able to employ people because Main + Second has a bigger demand than I can handle is a DREAM! So in the next 5 years I plan to put my best foot forward in growing not only my blog, but the whole website to something bigger than I alone can handle. I am not sure what the proper steps are to get there, but I believe consistency and dedication are going to be key factors in order for this to happen.
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I highly recommend you check out Uniquely Women’s website, especially if you have a blog or are interested in starting one. She has a 7-day blog course that I highly recommend. I signed up and really found her tips and advice helpful…. And it’s free!!
From The Founder,
5 cups rhubarb (diced & skinned)
4 cups sugar
1 cup crushed pineapple
1 sm. package strawberry jell-o
To skin the rhubarb, use a knife and pull back the thin outer layer. This is very stringy and best to be discarded. Then dice the rhubarb into small pieces.
In a large bowl mix: sugar, diced rhubarb, & pineapple. Let sit for 30 minutes.
Transfer to stovetop and bring to a boil. Stir occasionally. Let boil for 15 minutes.
Remove from heat. Add packet of jell-o. Stir. Let slightly cool.
Transfer jam to containers with a ladle. Put lids on containers.
Store in freezer until ready for a jar of jam!
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This jam is one I make with my mom every year. This year was a special one getting to break in our new kitchen and picking the rhubarb conveniently from our backyard!
The amount of rhubarb back there is pretty extraordinary. I counted 15 bunches. I was thinking it would be fun to have a few people over for a “jam party” and make jam while sipping on mules!… Strawberry rhubarb mules?! Let me know if you are down because I would totally be up for it! We can feel productive and have fun all at the same time… And everyone gets to go home with JAM!
My favorite ways to eat this jam: lathered on freshly baked bread, PB & J’s (of course), as an ice cream topping, and a spoonful of jam mixed in with fresh berries.
- 2/3 Cup Coconut Oil (melted)
- 1 Cup Sugar
- 2 Eggs
- 1 t. Vanilla Extract
- 1 Cup Flour
- 1/2 t. Ground Cinnamon
- 1/2 t. Allspice
- 1 t. Baking Soda
- 3/4 t. Salt
- 3 Large Carrots (grated)
- 1/2 Cup Raisins
- 1/4 Cup Walnuts (crushed)
8 oz. Cream Cheese (room temperature)
1 Stick Butter (room temperature)
1 t. Vanilla Extract
2-3 Cups Powdered Sugar
1/4 Cup Flaked Coconut
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Butter an 8×8 pan.
- In a mixer beat sugar, eggs, and oil until eggs are blended. Mix in vanilla extract.
- In a separate bowl mix flour, cinnamon, allspice, baking soda, and salt.
- Gradually add dry ingredients to wet mixture and beat until combined.
- Toss carrots in 1 T. flour to avoid clumping. Mix carrots, raisins, and nuts together.
- Add carrot mixture to cake batter.
- Spread batter in greased pan.
- Bake 10 minutes.
- Turn heat down to 350 degrees and bake an additional 20-25 minutes (until center is set and a toothpick comes out clean).
- Let cake cool before frosting.
- Beat cream cheese, vanilla, and butter in a mixer until all clumps are gone and there’s a smooth consistency.
- Gradually add powdered sugar until you gain the sweetness/consistency you want. The more powdered sugar, the more light weight your frosting will be.
- Frost cooled cake with a spatula.
- Sprinkle flaked coconut on top of frosted cake.
[refrigerate until ready to serve]
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This [made-from-scratch] recipe is easy enough to whip up and sure to hit the sweet spot! You will be licking the crumbs off the bottom of the pan… It really is that delicious!
April kicks off to a great start with Junkstock, then Junk Bonanza, and ending the month in Des Moines at Junk Jubilee!
Anyone with the “junk bug” is starting to get antsy to stock up on one of a kind finds… Just in time for Spring, I am sharing with you the five best junking destinations in the Midwest region to cure the itch:
- Kane County Flea Market in St. Charles, IL
- 2017 Dates: 1st Sat/Sun of each month
- Voted top 10 flea markets in the world by Jet Setter Magazine.
- 100’s of vendors setup all throughout Kane County Fairgrounds (both indoors and outdoors).
- Junk Jubilee in Des Moines, IA
- What Cheer Flea Market in What Cheer, IA
- 2017 Dates: May 5-6-7 | August 4-5-6 | October 6-7-8
- Keokuk County Fairgrounds becomes plum full of unique finds 3 weekends a year.
- Something for everyone. A great destination for both dealers and personal shoppers.
- Junkstock in Omaha, NE
- 2017 Dates: April 7-8-9 | June 9-10-11 | October 6-7-8
- This is Omaha’s original vintage festival with 200+ vendors, 18+ food trucks, and all kinds of fabulous live bands.
- A must go to show. Wear comfy shoes and don’t be afraid of a little dust (or mud). Located on Sycamore Farms.
- Junk Bonanza in Minneapolis, MN
- 2017 Dates: April 20-21-22 | September 21-22-23
- An indoor market with the best vendors in the industry.
- “It is the place for junkers, flea marketers, and antiquers.”
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I have big expectations to make it to all of these hot spots once this year. Check back in with me here [or on social media] if you end up at one of these events. I want to hear all about it… Show off your finds and leave me in junk envy!!
A few more to keep in mind are:
- West Bottoms Warehouse District in Kansas City, MO
- Elkhorn Flea Market in Elkhorn, WI
- Main Street Market in Rockford, IL
- Randolph Street Market in Chicago, IL
- Vintage & Made Fair, Urbandale, IL
Stay tuned… these shows will be featured in an upcoming blog post soon!
From the Founder,
This family trip (I don’t call it a vacation unless it’s going to be relaxing) to Colorado has been on our bucket list for 6 years now. Three babes later and we are finally able to RENT A CAR! We have family scattered all throughout the state, so renting a car to go see some of them and doing exploring along the way has been something we’ve been anxious to do.
When $78 round trip tickets (through Frontier Airlines) came through my email and were available for purchase over our daughter’s Spring Break, I snagged them right away.
Our different destinations in order over 7 days:
Chicago > Denver > Eastern Colorado (Cheyenne Wells) > Colorado Springs > Cripple Creek > Manitou Springs > Denver > Chicago
Highlight at each destination:
Chicago: Giordano’s Pizza (we had it before we flew out AND when we flew back in!).
Denver: Swimming at the Aloft Hotel… Ample entertainment for our kids!
Eastern Colorado: Farm chores & helping grandma make breakfast, lunch, and dinner (EVERYTHING is from scratch!).
[a barn we explored on my grandparent’s ranch]
Colorado Springs: Exploring Garden of the Gods and a backyard BBQ with family!
Cripple Creek: Heritage Center… It’s 3 stories of FREE entertainment. All of our kids were entertained there for a good hour or two!
[Baby Hugo playing “nice” at the Heritage Center]
Manitou Springs: Their downtown is filled with so many cute shops and restaurants. There’s also a great playground there for kids to burn off energy on! Josh & John’s Ice Cream was seriously SO delicious….. The line we waited in was well worth it. They even had “100% fruit tubes” so baby Hugo could enjoy a treat too!
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Our 7 day getaway budget breakdown:
Roundtrip Airfare for 4 (Chicago O’Hare –> Denver) ………………………………………………………. $312
One checked bag (a large suitcase that Spencer & I shared)……………………………………………. $50
Parking @ O’Hare (luckily my cousin lives in CHI and housed our car)……………………………….. FREE
Tolls/Other Parking (Navy Pier + short term hotel parking at Westin)………………………………….. $70
Hotels through Priceline.com (1 night in CHI + 1 night in DEN both with free shuttle to airport).. $200
5 Day Car Rental Through Hertz.com (full-size 7 passenger suv)………………………………………… $550
Food/Drink (we were thankfully cooked for by family majority of the trip)…………………………………$250
Spending Cash (ice cream shops + souvenirs)…………………………………………………………………….$100
Adding $300 to your food/drink total would be a smart move if you are using this budget as a guide to your next trip. Also, factoring in long term airport parking might be necessary for you as well as a larger hotel budget.
We got a discount for our car rental because of the home/auto insurance we use. This could very well be the case for you. I would call and check the next time you rent! Also, we got 4-star hotels through priceline.com by going with the “express deal.” You don’t know what hotel you will be staying at, but you are able to select the number of stars it has AND a pinpointed area of the city (for example, we selected “hotels near airport”). We were very pleased with both hotels we stayed at (Westin & Aloft).
FAVORITE MEMORIES FROM ALL AGE LEVELS:
- Peyton’s (6 years old) favorite part of the trip was seeing family and Garden of the Gods.
- Kahler’s (3 years old) favorite part of the trip was swimming at the hotels… Go figure!
- I will answer for Hugo (11 months old). He loved my aunt’s fenced in backyard and the 75 degree weather! He explored that backyard for 2 hours straight without making one fuss. That says a lot for our little mama’s boy!!
- My favorite part of the trip was getting away from our everyday hustle and bustle.
- Spencer’s (my husband) favorite part of the trip was the gorgeous 75 degree Colorado temperature. No humidity there sure makes a difference! When he can wear Hugo on his back in 75 degrees and not sweat says a lot (he is probably rolling his eyes right now reading this comment)!!
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Something I realized on this trip was that the destination of a trip makes no difference. Setting aside the time to be together and getting away from the daily grind is what’s important. Your destination does not need to be elaborate nor does it need to be hours away and rob your bank account. The generation we live in is so fast paced. If you don’t take the time to do the things that make you happy, then who will?
Happiness is a choice. If you lack it, create it. Don’t dwell on “what if’s”, don’t compare yourself to others, but most of all don’t blind yourself to the good in your life… Good as in the people, your surroundings, and resources available to you.
Much Love From The Founder,